While these things in Boeotia were being [p. 493]
accomplished, Perseus remained a few days in camp1
When he heard there that the Romans were hastily bringing in reaped grain from the fields round about, and then, each before his own tent, was clipping the ears with his sickle, so that the grain might be threshed out more cleanly, and that they had made great piles of straw throughout the whole camp, the king thought that this was a time suitable for a conflagration, and ordered torches and pitch-pine
and fire-spears of tow smeared with pitch2
to be prepared, and with this equipment set out at midnight, so as to make a surprise attack at dawn.
Vainly the first outposts were overwhelmed; by their uproar and panic they roused the rest, and the signal was given to take arms at once; at the same time the soldiery was posted on the rampart and at the gates.
Then indeed, in shame at the rash and foolish beginning of an attack on the camp, Perseus at once wheeled his line around and ordered the baggage to go first, then the infantry to move out; he himself with the cavalry and light troops halted to form the rear-guard, thinking that the enemy would, as actually happened, pursue to harass the last units from behind.
There was a short struggle particularly of the light troops against skirmishers; the cavalry and infantry returned without disturbance to camp.
After reaping the crops round about, the Romans moved their camp to Crannon, an untouched territory.
There while they were remaining in camp with a feeling of safety, both because of the distance and the difficulty of the almost waterless road between Sycurium and Crannon, suddenly at dawn on [p. 495]
commanding hills the king's cavalry with the light troops3
was sighted and caused a great uproar.
They had set out from Sycurium during the middle of the previous day; just before dawn they had left the column of infantry in the nearest plain.
Perseus halted a while on the hills, thinking that possibly the Romans might be enticed to a cavalry struggle; after they would not budge, he sent a horseman to order the infantry to return to Sycurium; he presently followed.
The Roman cavalry followed at a moderate distance, so that they might at any point be able to attack scattered or straggling men, but after they saw that the enemy was retreating in a body, keeping to his formations and ranks, they also returned to camp.